To ensure students in Miami-Dade County in the US receive fresh produce and school supplies during distance learning, The Education Fund has partnered with Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC, its self-driving technology partner Argo AI, and Ford Motor Company Fund, to make contactless deliveries in Ford’s Fusion Hybrid self-driving test vehicles.
Ford is currently building a self-driving service in Miami-Dade for ride-hailing and goods delivery and offered to help make deliveries to students’ homes through this innovative pilot program.
Before COVID-19, The Education Fund distributed produce from its first-in-the-nation Food Forest program at 26 schools in Miami-Dade and gave away millions of free classroom materials from its 11,000 sq. ft. school supply warehouse. However, with the pandemic leaving many students learning from home, The Education Fund was looking for a variety of ways to provide supplies to students and their families safely.
Over an eight-week period, the Ford and Argo AI team is making weekly contactless deliveries of supplies to the families of approximately 50 students attending Feinberg Fisher K-8 in Miami Beach and Riverside Elementary School in Little Havana. The Education Fund packs harvest bags with organic greens grown in Food Forests at these schools, along with books, pens, masks and other materials.
After the Ford and Argo AI team collects the bags at each school, the deliveries are made in Ford’s self-driving test vehicles with two highly-trained Test Specialists. In addition to supporting The Education Fund and the community, the Ford and Argo AI team are also developing key learnings through this pilot as it builds its self-driving service for Miamians.
Says Linda Lecht, president of The Education Fund:
“Ford saw an opportunity to broaden a critical supply pipeline to students. The deliveries ensure low-income students have nutritious food and the learning materials they need even at home. Ford’s truly unique support fuels our pursuit of innovation to help students succeed.”
Adds Alex Buznego, Miami Market Manager, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC:
“As we pave the path for our self-driving services in Miami-Dade, we are committed to being active members of this vibrant community and supporting local institutions like The Education Fund that have been doing so much good for such a long time.
“Our goal is to be a part of Miami-Dade’s success by offering self-driving services that provide our neighbours with flexibility, reliability and value, allowing our community to achieve its fullest potential.”
Since the pandemic hit in March 2020, the Education Fund has provided nearly $3 million in materials and produce benefitting more than 90,415 families, 60 schools and 1,500 teachers just since the pandemic hit in March 2020.